When a family is in their vehicle or on an airplane for long trips, travel board games can help make the difference between bored kids and a few hours of fun. Even if a trip is not in your future, portable games are great fun for camping, trips to grandma's and day trips. Finding the right games to pack is a key factor in keeping everyone happy.
Features of a Good Travel Game
First and foremost, a game must be fun and age-appropriate, regardless of whether it's going to be played on the kitchen table or the back seat of the car. The game should also fit the personality of the player. Some players like a game of strategy while others are less-inclined to want to spend a lot of thinking power and, instead, just want a game that is fun to play.
Travel games should be chosen for all the same reasons. Games played away from home or in the confines of a back seat often have a few extra challenges to meet in order to capture the player's attention. A good travel game should do the following:
- Capture the attention of all players
- Help pass the time of the trip
- Stimulate the minds of all players to combat travel boredom
- Provide a new experience that will capture the attention of the players
Not every game that you like to play at home will make a good travel game. You might want to avoid games that feature the following:
- Have a center piece that needs to be shared, such as a spinner. This shared-piece can be difficult to use if all the players are not sitting together.
- Have a narrow age range if all family members are going to play. One option is to pack several games, one for the little ones and one that could be played by all ages.
- Take too long to play. Attention spans tend to be short in a travel situation since other travel activities can quickly take the attention off the game.
Selecting the Right Game
When you go out to shop for a new travel game be sure to remember the travel-specific needs that the game should meet. Folding game boards make the games more compact, easier to pack and convenient to stash in a tote bag. Magnetic boards can make it much easier to play games with a lot of moveable pieces while the players contend with the bumps and turns of travel.Look for games that make it easy to play when a tabletop is not available. Try to avoid games with a lot of pieces that can get lost in the back of the car or left at Grandma's. Here are a few things to think about when selecting your travel games:
- Let the players pick the game. You have a great chance for a hit game if the players had a role in its selection.
- Don't feel compelled to purchase games with "deluxe" travel packaging such as premium leather folios. Instead, consider purchasing a less expensive version of the travel game and store the game board and playing pieces in a gallon-size, closable food storage bag. Use the money you save to purchase another game!
Types of Travel Board Games
There are many types of travel board games. Some are redesigned versions of popular games, and others are specially-designed for travel play.
Travel Versions of Popular Games
Many of the classic board games are designed in a travel version. The rules don't change, so your family can still enjoy the same fun and strategy that they have been using at home. The playing pieces may be magnetized or designed in such a way to keep them on the game board if the board is tilted. Usually the games are slightly smaller than their non-travel versions, and they include some type of travel packaging such as a pouch or a metal tin. Some of the more popular travel versions include:
- Backgammon - Backgammon is a popular travel game since is appeals to a wide range of player ages. Some sets are available with a magnetic game board. Other sets are sold with handy travel packaging that corrals all the pieces along with the game board, making it easy to pack or carry.
- Chess - Travel chess games are usually small plastic chess pieces which are packaged with a folding game board in a box or tin.
- Candy Land Fun on the Run -This classic, well-loved game for ages three to six is packaged to be portable and still has the bright, fun graphics that little ones enjoy.
- Travel Battleship - This hand-held version of the popular Battleship game gives two players a chance to sink their opponent's fleet and track their progress without having to sit right next to each other.
- Scrabble - Scrabble has a travel version that has recessed areas to hold the letters so that they don't slide across the board if the board is tilted.
Not Just for Travel
When you get home, resist the urge to store the travel games with the other travel items. Instead, keep them conveniently located so that players can enjoy them year round.